Email: Will we need to work doubly as hard, fast after lockdown? (Spain)
A thought, a flight’s analogy. Plane’s late? Captain: ‘flight’s behind schedule, will try to make up time’. Familiar scenario? Can pilots actually make up time? Dependant on several smart factors, efforts.
To speed up time, we imagine the pilot simply stepping on the gas? But, it doesn’t quite work that way. Aircraft are designed to cruise within a fairly small speed bracket. Fly at fastest economical speed.
Going above speed ranges needs much more power from engines to overcome increase in drag (aero-dynamic force generated by & opposing the plane). Needs more fuel, one of the costliest expense for an airline.
At times, expense of burning extra fuel is worth it – prevents major disruptions, missed flight connections. Costs the airline a lot. But, it’s not just the cost to an airline, cost to our environment, as well. Often, pilots adjust altitudes for calmer weather, where head-winds may be less strong.
Apart from speed, another factor in pilot’s control is the route. Flight plans are set for most efficient routes. But, pilots can ask for tactical shortcuts, direct routings to shave off time. Pilot’s play with wind speed, tail / head wind, direction to make a difference.
Surprisingly though, biggest efforts, human-controlled time gains are made on the ground where most delays occur – getting on & off the plane quickly, no taxiing delays for take-off & landing, getting to parking gates promptly!